Was busy the entire of last weekend (good friend's wedding lunch, gathering with friends etc), totally kept pushing this back, day after day; then worked late for the last couple of weekdays from last week till now, rushing for this $%^&*&^%$#@#$%^& report due tomorrow... and then i reach home at the internet is wonky.
So finally here I am, reviewing the time I spent with Q at Yeliu, Chiufen and Pingxi.

How to go:  From Taipei Main Station, take Guo-Guang Bus Line 1815 going towards Jing-Shan Youth Activity Centre, and stop at Yeliu.( For prices and timetables, check here ) 
From Yeliu to Jiufen, you need to change to the Keelung Bus Line 1262 to go to Keelung, where you will have to change again for Keelung Bus Line 1013 to go to Jiufen. 
If going directly to Chiufen from Taipei, take the TRA to Ruifang station. Exit the station and cross the road and to take the bus to Chiufen.To get to Pingxi or Shifen you can take the Pingxi train line at Ruifang station.

Review: YeLiu Geopark is beautiful, I won't deny it. But before going further, I need to warn you that this place is overrun with tourists- particularly PRC tourists. Not anything personal, but yes, truckloads (or rather, tour buses full) of them. And they come at every interval/hour. So there, you've been warned. But this is till worth a visit. 

I visited in April, on a rainy weekday. The rocks and paths were a bit slippery and there was a long queue to take a picture with the legendary 'Queen's head' but it was worth the trudge from taipei. There's some hearsay that there wasn't originally a circle of rocks around the Queen's neck but the park rangers came up with the idea of adorning the queen's neck with a 'necklace' as a deterrent to discourage daring PRC tourists from getting to close to the Queen's head. 

Just some hearsay, from unknown sources, this needs to be verified.... though likely to be true as i personally witnessed a park ranger angrily shouting at 2 PRC tourists who climbed up next to a rock (that clearly had a sign 'DO NOT CLIMB' next to it).... well. 

I can imagine in Summer Yeliu would be really beautiful- with clear cloudless blue skies and yellow-brown sand and rocks. But even in the rain, with my low morale, surrounded by maddening crowds, i found it beautiful. 

Being on a tight schedule, after lunch we made haste and went on to Chiufen, where we would be spending the night. From Yeliu to Chiufen it took us about 1 and 1/2 hours, and by the time we reached it was almost 5pm. We quickly checked into the place where we would be staying night, a B&B called 阳光味宿 SunRoom, review below, at the end of the post, and made our way to Chiufen old street to walk around. 

There's a store opened by Lavender Cottage in Chiufen, which has farms in Hsinchu and Nantou. The decor is really pretty and they sell all kinds of lavender related products such as hand cream, bath salts, poppuri, and also lavender ice cream. The ice cream is a must try- it was quite cold at Chiufen but we had a really good time eating it. We also tried their lemongrass flavoured ice cream which was more unique but has an acquired taste, which Q didn't quite acquire, haha! I quite liked it though. 

Following that we followed the narrow streets up Chiufen all the way to the famous Ah Gan Yu Yuan 阿柑芋圆, which is located right at the top. The Yuyuan is really pipping hot and delicious, a perfect snack after climbing up in the cold to get there! 

The view from the eating area is really great too- try to get a seat at the window area, you can have a bird's eye view of the houses and entire hills below: 

After having the Yuyuan, we continued to walk around the old street and found a couple of interesting stores- one selling creepy-looking masks and the old selling retro/vintage knickknacks. 

We managed to find a nice spot near the famous 理长卤味 braised snacks store to watch the sunset. By this time it was about 6pm and most of the stores were closing or already had closed. We hurried to get some 卤味 before it closed. The store owner is very friendly and chatty and will give you loads of freebies. The 卤味  is also really tasty. 

We made one last round along the old streets and went back to rest for the night. There's nothing much to do in Chiufen at night- best to sleep in a have a good rest, watch some tv or get some couple time. Q and I took turns having a nice soak in the tub, watched some TV then went to bed. Early next morning after breakfast we made our way to Pingxi. Some photos of the railway route and timings below:

They were lighting some firecrackers (?!?) outside Ruifang train station as we arrived. Not sure what the occasion was but there was a huge commotion. 

We walked around the nearby streets, bought some souvenirs (stickers for my mom so she can give the kids, she's a kindergarten teacher) from a nearby stationery store, then went back to the station to board the Pingxi line. 

You can light sky lanterns at both Pingxi and Shifen but we chose to do it at Shifen based on the B&B owner's recommendation-she said it's more authentic there. A customary shot of Q at the Pingxi station before we left for the old streets:

There's a souvenir store right within the pingxi station but the prices are daylight robbery prices. DO NOT BUY THERE. Just walk down a bit further from the station and you will see stores selling the exact same things, or stuff that's even nicer, at a fraction of the price. 

out to get your money- DON'T FALL FOR IT!

At the old street we queued for a famous sausage and fried chicken store. Q doesn't eat pork so she had to watch rather miserably as i savoured the awesome-tasting sausage. They put slices of garlic in it so it smells and tastes really good! I ate it so fast i didn't even take a photo of it. Anyway take my word for it- it's a must buy. Buy from the store manned by a couple of aunties, with a yellow signboard at the side as above. Don't buy it from the store manned by a young man and middle-aged woman- they're not the original. 

Friendly auntie who sold us the sausages and fried chicken

Unfortunately for the fried chicken I didn't think it tasted that great. The flavours were quite interesting- we had wasabi mixed with chili and mayo and goodness knows what else, but it was too much (both in terms of quantity and taste) and so in the end we couldn't finish it. 

After eating our fill we went to a store to purchase our sky lanterns and to get them lit. The store we went to is called 天灯达人 and was recommended by the auntie who sold us the fried chicken and sausage. 

painting on wall near the store

It seems to be a rather famous store- it has photos of celebrities taken at the store, plastered all over. The owner was a middle-aged man who was very chatty and friendly. There are loads of sky lantern stores so you can just take your pick. For this one they let us write/draw on it using a marker. Next time though I'd choose one that lets you write/draw using a brush- gives you more freedom and you can decorate the lantern to make it look nice. 

The owner then brought us up a small pathway on a slope to release our sky lanterns. It was over in just a couple of minutes but it was still quite fun. I'd advise you to do this in the evening, around 5pm though. If you do it then they take you out to an open area and all the lanterns are released at the same time, and it's a sight to behold, with the sun setting at the back. We arrived at Chiufen too late to rush to Pingxi in time so we didn't do it. 

After releasing our lanterns we slowly made our way back to the train station. We saw a train incoming as we were nearing:

And that marks the end of our short 2D1N trip to Yeliu, Chiufen and Pingxi. The following photos and review is about the B&B we stayed at. 

B&B review: We chose to stay at 九份民宿-陽光味宿 based on it's positive reviews at tripadvisor. This was easily the most expensive place we booked for our entire 2 weeks trip but the setting was worth it. I'd highly recommend you book this place if you want a romantic place to spend time with your other half. The location though slightly remote (it's a 10minute walk down some stairs and a path from the 九份派出所站 bus stop) but the surrounding and view from your room is really idyllic. 
If you're not an animal lover then you should avoid this as the owners have 2 dogs and 1 cat that freely roam around the dining area. 

Some photos of the reception and breakfast dining area:

waiting for breakfast

The breakfast sandwich is handmade by the owner's maid and is really tasty! They also make really nice tea and will offer you a cup upon your arrival. 

so cold even the cat was huddling

cute doggie

cute other doggie

Our room was located on the second 'floor', up a flight of pebbled stairs. It had a large bathroom and mini balcony area where you can sit and enjoy the scenery below. It was drizzling and cloudy the whole time we were there so there wasn't much 'scenery' to enjoy but still we liked it. 

bathroom area


spacious bathroom

view of the B&B below from our room

The owner was a little slow to warm up but was very helpful and chatty when we asked her questions on places to visit or suggestions for things to do in Chiufen/Taipei. All in all this is a nice place to spend 1 or 2 nights at, though I would consider staying somewhere else next time as there's no shortage of nice B&Bs in Chiufen.